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4 “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them….
37 “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38 besides the Lord’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord.
39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
44 Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the Lord.
- Important festivals
- Festivals in ancient Israel’s worship are very important. They emphasized memory. They remembered the exodus when God delivered and guided the people out of bondage and preserved them through the wilderness and eventually brought them into the land of Canaan. The purpose of worship is to remember, to live it, rehearse and reenact it, and to bring it into the present. The people can then see that God still delivers and guides. They can structure their lives on that basis and move into the future with hope. This is important to our spiritual life. For the spiritual journey includes high points and low points. Remembering God’s work in the past has a sustaining and renewing effect during times of spiritual drought. Memory and worship are keys to spiritual formation.
- Learning from the Israelites, we have our own memories and worship: at Christmas, we remember the incarnation of God’s son. On Good Friday, we meditate on Christ’s death for us. Each Easter, we rejoice in His resurrection. There are other traditional church festivals, or important dates of individuals or families. We can choose to focus on the spiritual meaning of these dates, and so make them times of celebration and spiritual renewal. Through memories, thanksgiving and worship, relationships with God and people may be renewed and spiritual lives strengthened.
Recall an especially important date of mine. Tell God about it, what was the situation, what’s my feeling, who were there, their roles, the impact on me. Anything to be thankful for? Any unfinished business? Give to God and ask him to finish it for me.